Colonel J's - Pickelhaube and Imperial German Musings
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The Pickelhaube Vols. 1 & 2

Bowman, J.A

 

Horrible. The controversial Bowman books. 2 volumes you see them often. (There were supposed to be at least 4 volumes so holes are large.) I liked volume 1 at first but lots of terrain covered and some disagreement with others on points.  He has a long discussion of cockades. Though desperately needed, I do not think it is all-correct. I still would buy them, as they are a source.  It gets you started and if you only speak English.... Goes to show that you have to compare.  Some of the other references  offer great comparison. This will cause questions and you can try to validate. Seen these go for between $50 and $125 a pair rising to $350 under duress. No one says anything good about the accuracy of these books. I like to think our collectors think critically.  However, if no one told you to question the assertions this book could lead you astray. Lots of folks have low opinions of the author who has passed away. I never knew him. The more I know the less accurate these books are. Captions are bad and he didn't know his Landsturm from Landwehr.

OK Volume 1.  A wonderful primer/textbook about Imperial Germany and Pickelhauben. Now the organization is odd and I cannot attest for all the facts but it does present a wide range of data. Chapter 1 is Prussia.  Sort of a general history with nothing new or exciting but it is simplistically laid out.  Why a book on Pickelhaube starts here I don't know.  Chapter 2 is the long and now famous discussion of Kokarden.  I know there are mistakes in here and it is not super clear so I'll pass it by.  It starts however with the "state" landes cockardes and a map of imperial Germany.  Much of the book is about the minor states so you find yourself jumping back and forth constantly. Chapter 3 is a discussion of Helmet plates. You start here to go buggy because of the organization again.  VOl. #1 is Line infantry.  VOL. #2 is Wartime, ersatz, Reserve and Artillery. In theory VOL.#3 is Gd etc.  There is no volume 3 ( or 4) so right off the bat there is stuff missing.  Also the author delays comment on some items until VOL. #3. The "famous" pictures of the helmet plates from Imperial Germany is included covering 3 pages so the pictures of the common plates are there. Chapter 4 is the state by state explanation.  Some states are covered far better than others and his explanation of the Thuringian states is far from correct.  Still where else is this explained? Chapter 5 is on the assembly of the Pickelhaube. Chapter 6 helmet covers. Chapter 7 Accoutrements. Chapter 8 Patents.  His thought is that we have much to learn from the patent archives. Chapter 9 is Haus Doorn. Chapter 10 is really quite good.  Loads of article like commentary.  The OB list of line regiments in 1914. (This is well laid out then VERY confusing because it does not include the Guard but does the state Guards like the 109th.) The Army Corps Districts, Bavarian Army List. Maker's Marks, Values, Adoption of spiked helmets by other nations. 

So there you have it. Lots of data and black and white pictures with some color plates but almost like he had chapters and stapled them together to make a book. Good general know how book to use as a spring board for further research.  I would take little of this 1989 source as gospel.

Volume #2. Published 3 years after volume 1.  This is like a separate book.  Chapter 1 is on the German Army in 1914.  Starts as a discussion of the attack becomes an explanation of the demise of the spiked helmet then contains what appears to be pages of random pictures. Chapter 2 is Pickelhauben in WW1. Really this is an explanation of Pickelhauben in German society and why resources led to its demise.  Then there are pages of random pictures. Chapter 3 is on Wartime Pickelhauben. A good chapter explaining the transition to the M15 types.  Loads of applicable pictures (all B&W). Chapter 4 Ersatz Pickelhauben. Yes an explanation of why and how colonial forces had used this for 20 years. Felt tin, steel, given long treatment. Fiber and Misc.  Bowman says fibre helmets look like leather up close.  Foul. Loads of B&W pictures of examples. Chapter 5 Kugelhauben, Chapter 6 reservists. A long treatment with lots of pictures but mostly a history lesson on the Prussian Reserve system and the Napoleonic Wars. He states that the difference in Landwehr, Landsturm and Reserve can be seen by different types of reserve crosses. Tilt. There is a big problem here. Pictures are good though and on pages 233-236 there are great drawings of the different crosses. Chapter 7 Patents again. Chapter 8 Helmet covers again. Chapter 9 Specialist formations. (Eisenbahn and train.)  Chapter 10 Helmet Plates. (All pictures with captions) Chapter 11 General information. There is a long article on the One Year volunteer.  I believe that this is the main source of all "other" Pickelhauben being lumped into the OYV category.  There is no mention of Fähnrich. 

All in all I would definitely buy these as you can see where poor thought came from.  In ENGLISH!!!!! Great source to begin questioning. Take none of these books as gospel.

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